London, May 21, 2014
A man walked along the Thames from the Bridge towards the Eye, on his way to supper at the Sherlock Holmes Pub. As he was walking and thinking, he saw a street magician performing illusions to nobody in particular.
The man stopped a few meters away and watched as the magician made a card disappear from his hand. The lady and her son, who was standing there, gave the magician some money, but whilst she put the money in the hat which the magician had placed on the ground, the magician pocketed the lady’s watch. The man saw that and was impressed. He walked over to the street magician and said:
“Impressive. Alright, if you can show me a magic trick without scamming me or stealing from me, I will give you one hundred pounds. However, if you fail to impress me – all you will get is a pence and a shout to the Bobby over there.” He pointed to the constable on patrol.
“Alright old man, I’ll take you up on your offer”, said the magician.
He got out a deck of cards and shuffled them.
“Pick a card, look at it, memorise it and put it back into the deck, but don’t tell me what it is.”
The man picked a card. The King of Diamonds. He gently put it back in the deck. The magician shuffled some more and did the trick. He pulled out a card and asked:
“Is this your card?”
“No”, the man replied.
The magician looked confused at the card – a two of Spades.
The man smiled and turned to gesture towards the Bobby to inspect the magician, but as he was doing so, the magician grabbed his arm.
“Alright. Double or a night in prison”, said the man.
The magician shuffled the deck again and told the man to pick a card. The Ace of Hearts. He put the card back in the deck.
“Is this your card?” asked the magician with less enthusiasm than the previous time.
“No”, replied the man.
It was the seven of Clubs.
The magician was very confused now. He had done the trick over and over hundreds of times and each time he got it right.
“Once more, then I have to go. But if you get it right, I will give you 500 Pounds for the effort”, said the man.
The magician remained quiet as he shuffled the deck for the last time. The man again picked a card. The Ten of Clubs. The magician showed the man a card. Six of Hearts.
“Well, it seems that you have lost your magical touch with all the stealing and scamming. Maybe you should focus more on the practice than the reward.”
The magician’s face had gone white. He didn’t know what to say. Maybe he had lost his ability to actually entertain.
“I thought the first lesson in performing magic was misdirection?” said the man.
With that, the man turned around and started walking away. The magician was very, very confused. He didn’t understand what the man had meant. Then he looked down at his deck and saw that four cards were the wrong way around. The King of Diamonds, the Ace of Hearts, the ten of Clubs and a fourth card wrapped in five hundred Pound notes.
The magician unwrapped it and started smiling. He put the money in his wallet and the Joker back in the deck.